The Visual On Demand Experience is the brainchild of the Scott Brown. His passion started in the late 90’s, in general contracting and plumbing design. After several patents and successful partnerships and licensing opportunities. Fast forward to 2011, the concept of VODXS was conceived as a Digital Display Water Faucet System with his co-founding partner Cory Galakatos. By 2012 a patent was issued, US D670,664 S, for the Visual On Demand Experience System.

It might not be all that obvious that a company who manufactures and distributes a patented faucet with an integrated LCD Screen world-wide would be in a position to disrupt the advertising industry through blockchain technologies, but often the best ideas come from outside their domains and strategic positioning of technology, relationships and locations.

VODXS is Universal Global Technology and media service provider, specializing in digital video advertising in stadiums, resorts, conference centers, casinos and other high traffic venues with the primary focus on “cleaning up” digital advertising with increased efficiency, transparency, cost reduction, and the elimination of fraud.

In the United States alone, there are more than 80 million plus faucets distributed across nearly 10 million public bathrooms. People wash their hands, on average, 6-10 times per day, amounting to 100s of billions of hand washing sessions annually in common area washrooms that would rapidly expands our reach, akin to shaving or drinking coffee, is something that nearly everyone does and therefore creates an intriguing opportunity to see how one might go about monetizing the practice.

In 2014, VODXS went mainstream with connected faucet. Deployed in various locations, including Caesars Harrah’s Casino Properties, streaming video ads was deemed a success during interviews with various people, and the establishment that bought the first units.

Today, more has over 1,000 active VODXSmartpoints are in 13 different countries with demand growing daily equaling over 17,000,000+ high value active engagements annually. Importantly, the team recognized the real power in their faucets and began to figure out how to connect them and, in the process, create a more effective means of advertising.

VODXS is committed to rapid expansion and market saturation, providing unique technology solutions that create revenue, measured and verifiable results, enhanced environments, promoting transactions and engagements.

What I learned about procrastination while scaling my startup to 4.2 million users
What I learned about procrastination while scaling my startup to 4.2 million users
Blog certified, November 16

By A Tank

Cozy.

That’s how I felt.

Tucked beneath what may have been the world’s softest blanket.

I took a deep breath and rolled onto my side. It was a familiar moment — the moment when my 6 a.m. alarm clock sounded, after a night of tossing and turning.

The moment when my daily responsibilities had yet to beckon me. The moment when the clouds of my imagination felt more real than writing lines of code.

In a few minutes, I would answer the same question I had faced every weekday for the past year:

Should I stay in bed or should I work on my side business?

At the time, I was working as a programmer for an NYC media company.

Balancing a full-time job with the responsibilities of scaling my startup, JotForm, taught me a lot about myself.

Among other things, I learned that I was somewhat risk-averse.

The typical path of raising venture capital wasn’t appealing to me. Additionally, as someone who highly values personal freedom, I didn’t want to make myself beholden to anyone.

This meant two things:

  1. I had to prioritize profitability from day one.
  2. In order to experience consistent gains, I had to consistently beat my arch-nemesis: procrastination.

My biggest realization? The reasons we avoid completing a task, in any given moment, are extremely personal. And commonly touted “productivity hacks” don’t always cut it.

I want to share my experience of overcoming procrastination while scaling a side project into a company that now employs more than 130 people.

But before diving in, it might be interesting to take a look at how two types of founders handle procrastination: VC-backed founders vs bootstrappers who build their startups without any outside funding.

Are bootstrappers more likely to procrastinate?

Bootstrappers like myself aren’t the only entrepreneurs who sometimes grapple with the snooze button.

However, VC-backed founders may have a slight psychological advantage when compared to their bootstrapping counterparts: The pressure that comes with taking someone else’s money.

But that’s not all.

VC-backed founders are motivated to “pay investors back” sooner rather than later for another reason: Once a company has grown accustomed to a certain level of spending, scaling back becomes next to impossible.

Should the company fail to gain traction within 12 to 18 months, it could very well become another failure statistic.

Thus, the VC-backed founder who doesn’t feel like sending out emails Monday morning has every incentive to do so.

Conversely, the bootstrapper must learn how to push through procrastination — without the motivating force of a ticking clock and a room full of unhappy investors.

I encountered this learning curve while building JotForm in 2006. It was my first year in business, and my bedroom served as the company headquarters.

While I loved what I was building — a user-friendly form builder to help organizations enhance productivity — the temptation to procrastinate sometimes got the best of me.

Whether it was the lull of my comfy bed or the laughter promised by a favorite TV show, my home office was riddled with distractions.

During this time, I read many books about entrepreneurship, productivity, and procrastination. Sometimes their advice worked for me, and other times it didn’t.

The real reasons we procrastinate

When I became especially curious about the topic of procrastination, I often wondered:

Why do we delay doing the tasks that get us closer to the things we say we want?

Through self-observation, one thing became clear: There was always a reason for my procrastination.

Whenever I noticed the urge to put something off, I tried to ask myself “why.” Surely enough, my mind always answered.

Once I had identified the real problem — that was causing the feeling of avoidance — I could develop an appropriate plan of action to reclaim my productivity.

As simple as it sounds, identifying the root problem is somewhat contrary to common advice. The internet is filled with articles that advise us to push through feelings of resistance.

Heidi Grant, a social psychologist, and Harvard Business Review contributor, echoes this sentiment:

“Somewhere along the way, we’ve all bought into the idea, without consciously realizing it, that to be motivated and effective we need to feel like we want to take action… I really don’t know why we believe this, because it is 100 percent nonsense.”

While I completely agree and have often written about how organizational systems can enhance productivity, I believe something extremely important is often overlooked:

Productivity hacks are only effective when we know why we’re avoiding something in the first place.

“Just do it” isn’t a sustainable solution for beating chronic procrastination. If we repeatedly find ourselves avoiding certain tasks, an underlying problem needs to be addressed.

Once we identify the real cause, we can search for the right productivity hacks and solutions to meet our needs.

Here are the most common reasons that I figured often lead us to procrastinate:

1. We feel like we’re not making progress.

Think back to the last time you started a new project. You probably felt excited about executing that new marketing strategy, blog content idea, or programming stack.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and you now find yourself approaching the same task with a twinge of discouragement.

Observe your procrastinating mind in action, and it’s probably saying something like: My hard work isn’t being rewarded; this isn’t fun.

Science says humans are intrinsically more motivated by instant gratificationthan delayed gratification. Considering that worthwhile projects are rarely built overnight, this tendency is annoyingly inconvenient. The solution?

Stanford University behavioral scientist and lecturer BJ Fogg recommends creating systematic behavioral changes that correspond with “small wins.”

In other words, create your own way to celebrate small milestones. According to Fogg, every task should be accompanied by “a trigger” — and the easier the action better.

Say you’re committed to writing content for your new website. You might make an agreement with yourself to write one paragraph after each time you use the restroom, and continue to follow this trigger throughout the day.

Once you’ve completed the task, Fogg urges you to celebrate in a predetermined manner. The celebration could be as simple as treating yourself to a piece of chewing gum or as active as taking a bike ride through a favorite part of town.

Treat the series of actions like a game:

Trigger → Task → Celebration.

Why does this work? Creating small wins provides an incentive to keep working toward the finish line. Eventually, the actions create a habit that may become enjoyable.

2. We’re not sure where to start.

Another common reason for procrastination? Having so much to do that we’re not sure where to begin.

During the early days of building JotForm, I wasn’t always sure what to work on. With seemingly endless tasks begging for my attention, I often ended up “procrastinating” with low-value activities.

Based on my conversations with other founders, I know my experience was far from unique. A lack of organizational systems leads to unnecessary feelings of overwhelm, confusion and avoidance.

Here’s the key:

a) Acknowledge that it’s normal to feel uncertain when beginning something new.

b) Brainstorm with mentors, advisors, and friends how to best prioritize your time.

The more systems we put in place, the less we find ourselves procrastinating. I’m reminded of the importance of this each year when I visit my family. They own a small olive farm that runs like a well-oiled machine.

Everyone knows what needs to happen first, second and third when we harvest the fruit. With no room for guesswork, procrastination is virtually non-existent.

3. We’re afraid of failing.

This is the unofficial mantra of Silicon Valley tech founders.

- Fail fast, fail often.

However, look beneath the surface, and a different image will emerge: ambitious entrepreneurs who are terrified of making a bad decision.

As one anonymous insider shared with management consultant and Forbes contributor Rob Asghar:

“Many people here do talk about embracing failure, but that’s usually just hype. Many of them fear any kind of failure, and the pressure to succeed is so intense that some new businesses instead find themselves looking for shortcuts.”

While some founders cope by taking shortcuts, others stall out due to perfectionism. The tendency shows up in the form of delayed launch dates, missed deadlines, and “productive procrastination.”

During the early days, it wasn’t uncommon for me to spend a ridiculous amount of time on tasks that didn’t really matter.

Meanwhile, I was missing out on opportunities to grow our customer base, forge business partnerships, and help even more organizations enhance their productivity with user-friendly forms.

This was another reason I made the controversial decision to forego venture capital. I knew the pressure of a board looking over my shoulder would clash with my inner perfectionist.

Does that mean I never procrastinated for fear of failure? No — but I could be gentle with myself when it happened.

“It’s not necessarily the sky-high standards that slow you down, but the sky-high standards mixed with a belief that your performance is tied to your self-worth,” says Ellen Hendriksen, Boston University Psychologist. “That combination can grind you to a halt.”

Hendrickson recommends that we should consistently remind ourselves of the crucial difference between who we are and what we achieve.

Easier said than done, but it’s sound advice.

4. We dislike the task itself

Surprise, surprise — the most common reason for procrastination may actually be disliking the task at hand.

It’s no secret that building a business involves several moving parts. Understandably, everyone enjoys some tasks more than others.

One person may have an affinity for cold email campaigns, while another would rather play in traffic.

In such instances, HBR contributor Heidi Grant recommends using something she calls “if-then planning.” The process involves identifying the specific steps needed to complete a task and — most importantly — where and when you will do it.

For example: If it’s 11 a.m. then I will stop what I’m doing and cold email prospects.

Grant claims the process is different than relying on sheer willpower alone.

Personally, I find it more effective to ask targeted questions:

What could happen if I complete this task?

What could happen if I don’t complete this task?

What is my overarching vision? Why does it matter?

Once I reconnect with my goals and remind myself of the potential outcomes, I’m back on track. Obviously, there is no “right way” to deal with procrastination.

These are just some of the methods that have worked for me over the years. Everyone has unique personality quirks, internal motivations, and reasons for procrastinating.

Translation: The newest productivity hack everyone is raving about may not work for you. And that’s okay.

Identify your personal reasons for procrastinating, apply the best-suited advice and ignore the rest.

Oh, and do your best not to hit snooze — no matter how cozy your bed might feel.

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Your Startup Can Help Fix The Loneliness Epidemic
December 05

By Alan Cole

Why you shouldn’t make a big bet on “remote culture.”

Conjure this image in your mind…

Tom Hanks in the movie “Cast Away.” His character, barely covered in ragged clothing, stranded on a deserted island with nobody to talk to except Wilson… his inanimate volleyball friend.

That’s what comes to my mind when I hear companies spouting about their amazing “remote culture.” I mean, who wants to encourage remoteness as a culture?

Don’t Make That Mistake

It’s common, smart even, for aspiring entrepreneurs to model their young startups on companies like GitLab or Buffer — building a fully distributed team and avoiding tying up precious cash on office space and its associated costs.

Which makes perfect sense.

But please — strike “remote culture” from your startup’s lexicon immediately! Adopting this term as a pinup culture icon from the outset with all its resulting connotations is a mistake that’s hard to pull back from in the future. It may even impact the health of your staff.

Why?

There’s a good chance you’re not going to be a fully distributed company forever. As your startup grows there are reasons establishing an office and having “centers of gravity” where people work from can make sense. Sometime it’s because your brand equity is swelling in certain locations and you’re inundated with applicants in a city who want to work for you. Sometimes it’s because you need a physical presence to compete with big competitors and collaborate with enterprise customers. Sometimes it’s because you start to have teams and roles within your company that just function better being together in an office.

And so, if you’ve been riding the “remote culture” train the whole time, it’s a tricky juxtaposition to manage when you end up having people that work in offices, too. Toot toot! Mind the gap.

The term “remote culture” only exacerbates the very issues faced by distributed teams. It’s the Tom Hanks visual again. Banging on about remote culture only reinforces…well…the remoteness of it all! Remote, which is akin to being alone…to loneliness. This is not the foundational culture you want to build your startup on.

When Buffer surveyed 1900 people working remotely around the globe for their State of Remote Work 2018 report the number one struggle identified was loneliness (equal first with collaborating/communicating which is obviously closely related). In a similar 2017 survey, Owl Labs determined “staying in the loop” and “maintaining relationships” as remote employees’ biggest challenges. It’s not a big leap to link these back to feeling lonely.

Essentially, reinforcing the concept of “remote” as your main culture bet feels somewhat counterintuitive to supporting this main issue faced by people who work remotely: Loneliness.

The Loneliness Epidemic

Of course, it’s not only remote workers who are drained by the leech of loneliness. Many adults suffer from feeling lonely. In fact, Cigna released a study in May 2018 with a bold conclusion that loneliness is at “epidemic levels in America.”

Worryingly, it identified Gen Z (adults around 18–22 in age) as the most lonely generation. Why worryingly?

Because Gen Z are going to be the next wave of people entering the professional workforce…and your startup. The next support person, product manager, content writer, developer or design engineer you hire in a remote capacity may well be a Gen Z.

One who’s already lonely. (And now imagine trying to motivate them with all your “remote culture” talk…no, don’t do it!)

A recent study by Swinburne University in Australia also noted “chronic loneliness was on the rise in Australia,” with one in four Australians identifying as feeling lonely. Throwing another shrimp on the barbie only helps so much, it seems.

Both these studies and many others also cite the now well understood link between physical and mental health and how it’s negatively impacted by loneliness. As the Swinburne study puts it:

“Lonely Australians have significantly worse physical and mental health than connected Australians.”

So let me frame this for you: Maybe the most tech-savvy generation yet, of which there are around 61 million in the US, are on the cusp of entering the workforce — ripe for hiring by you and your “remote culture” startup;— who have been identified as the loneliest generation; in a time where research suggests loneliness contributes to poor physical and mental health.

Oh, well that sounds like a recipe for success. Do you think?

Hint: No.

Loneliness is Going To Cost Your Startup

This could be a predicament with costly outcomes. Certainly poor physical and mental health impacts productivity and performance which, in a startup, will be quickly reflected in the top line. Add additional spending on support and programs plus the cost of staff attrition and it quickly becomes a bottom line issue. Not to mention the potential social costs — health care, insurance, as examples.

Former United States Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy made the link, penning a great article in the Harvard Business Review late in 2017 titled “Loneliness and the Digital Workplace.” He comes to a number of conclusions, but most pointedly:

  • Workers who are lonely are unhealthy.
  • Modern digital work-styles are inadvertently contributing to loneliness.
  • Loneliness in the workplace is costly.

In the piece, Murthy goes on to say:

“If we cannot rebuild strong, authentic social connections, we will continue to splinter apart — in the workplace and in society….we will retreat to our corners, angry, sick, and alone.”

But he advocates for companies to lead the charge for change and “take action now to build the connections that are the foundation of strong companies and strong communities.”

Douglas Nemecek, M.D., chief medical officer for Behavioral Health at Cigna, sets down the same challenge:

“There is an inherent link between loneliness and the workplace, with employers in a unique position to be a critical part of the solution.”

Start Building Your Relationship Culture

To cultivate a strong, healthy and somewhat future proof culture that supports a distributed workforce, put a stake in the ground on building an amazing relationship culture, not a remote culture. Right from the start if you’re still there.

Instead of reinforcing remoteness and potentially amplifying issues faced by remote folks, tackle it head on: when working remotely people can feel lonely and isolated so correct that by purposefully driving relationships in everything you do.

Companies like GitLab and Buffer are successful with their fully-distributed workforce because they’ve already learned this lesson and actively practice it. From a post on Gitlab’s blog in October 2018 titled “The case for all-remote companies”:

“The biggest disadvantage to remote working is that isolation can set in if there isn’t a concerted effort to create a social connection between people.”

In his September blog post titled “The Joys and Benefits of Working as a Distributed Team,” Buffer CEO Joel Gascoigne points out:

“In order to have deliberate face-to-face time together to bond and have fun, we have regular teamwide Buffer retreats each year where we gather the full team, and we hold mini-retreats throughout the year for smaller teams.”

See the words “concerted” and “deliberate”? These companies are not banking on a “remote culture” by happenstance. They are being purposeful about building relationships to enable an effective remote workforce.

As it turns out, perhaps they’re also playing a part in improving the loneliness epidemic. Imagine the impact we could affect if all of us with some influence in our startups decided to prioritize relationships to combat loneliness. We may seriously improve the lifestyle of an entire generation.

So you want in on this? Here’s a couple of key tenets I subscribe to — adopt them in order to begin building a strong relationship culture in your startup:

  1. Make strengthening social relationships a priority. There are many opportunities to weave this through the way you do things at your startup. From assigning social “buddies” during onboarding (even if they’re not physically together) to ensuring face to face opportunities through company or team offsite meetings. I wrote this post recently about how you can even use randomness to stimulate social connections. Whatever you do, don’t be stubborn. Don’t fall in to the “we have an amazing remote culture, we’re always on Slack and Zoom, we don’t need to come together socially or physically” trap. Bullshit. Give your people every opportunity to build meaningful internal social relationships.
  2. Deploy your Storytellers. I call them storytellers — you might hear them referred to more formally as authentic informal leaders. Basically, these are people in your startup that are natural leaders. Maybe they’re not actually in a leadership position nor are they necessarily people managers. They are simply authentic and inspirational. They’re the people we follow in to the unknown or often consult with a tricky question. They’re the folks who tell the company battle stories around a campfire, with everyone listening on the edge of their seat. Your storytellers bring people together and instill a sense of belonging. Identify them and roll them out as often as you can — on your monthly all-hands call, at your company offsites, have them post videos on your internal comms tools, have them write internal blog posts. Clone them if you have the technology.

By building strong bonds of trust and respect, passion and transparency, honesty and empathy, you’ll cultivate a relationship culture that empowersremote working.

Or working in an office. Or working in an office and sometimes working at home. All of which are realistic scenarios you’ll probably evolve to within your startup.

When you have those bonds in place, then where you physically work from is less important. Being remote or in an office doesn’t personify people or become the feature of your culture; more simply a utility of how you get stuff done.

And just maybe your startup contributes to the health and wellbeing of many young adults facing an increasing battle against loneliness. That’s a culture icon you could be proud of.

Perhaps Tom Hanks and Wilson can even be saved.

Why Relationships Are Key To Success in Sales (And How To Build Them Using Social Media)
November 30

By Amy B

What’s the most common answer to the question, ‘What’s your biggest weakness?’ Of course, it’s, ‘I’m a bit of a perfectionist.’ For many of us, perfectionism is a humble brag. My only fault is that I’m too perfect.

Serious question: how well do you think you could function in sales today without the technology and automation that is available?

According to a study done by LinkedIn this year, sales tech is used by over 91% of all salespeople (and only 2% of the top sales performers in the world don’t use it). I’m certainly a fan of it myself and use a number of digital tools to manage my own sales process for ATP (more on that later).

But I’m also noticing some disturbing trends in sales as a result of all this available technology: it’s turning into a crutch. For many, the tech is taking the place of the foundational elements of what sales is. Namely, relationships.

Let me just state this up front: the tools are not to blame…I’m in no way advocating that anyone dump them for an old-school approach (I definitely couldn’t function without them).

But what I am saying, is I think we’re using them incorrectly. The tools are here to help us build relationships more efficiently, not replace the need for them.

My experience over the last 20 years in sales confirms this. Here’s why you can’t escape the need for relationships in sales and how I use these magical tools available to us today to build them in the digital space.

Why you can’t do sales without relationships

No matter how hard we as humans try to make logical and rational decisions, the simple fact is, every decision we make is actually made emotionally. How we feel about it determines what we choose to do, not what we think about it .

The truth is, every single person tends to look out for their own interests first (we can’t help it, it’s a primal instinct). So if we as salespeople want to persuade anyone to do anything, we have to first cater to that primordial selfishness.

Think about it like this: if you were walking through the mall looking for something specific, and someone from another store approached pushing you to buy their products, would you be more likely to buy from them than if they took a second to just say hello and got to know what you were looking for first?

I’m not you, but I’d be happy to bet a fair sum of money that you’d be much less likely to actually buy in the former case. No one likes to be ambushed or pressured into anything without feeling like the other person actually cares.

But, I can’t tell you how many calls I get these days where the first thing that happens is the person on the other end of the phone ramming their pitch down my throat without ever stopping to just connect.

Salespeople: showing the other person that we actually care about them and the things that are important to them is the first order of business if we want to be successful.

Good news though: the technology we have available today makes this really easy if you know how to use it correctly.

The reason why I’ve always been so successful in sales is a direct result of knowing how to use the tools at my disposal (tech or otherwise, I’ve been around a while) to build long-lasting business relationships. I’m not trying to brag — social selling techniques have just always been my secret weapon (before there ever was such a thing as social selling).

So that said, I want to give you an inside look at how I use social media and social selling techniques to do just that.

How to build relationships through social media and social selling

I’ve talked about this before, but building any relationship starts with making a “deposit”.

Just like you can’t withdraw from your bank account without putting any funds in it first, you can’t start a relationship by trying to get something out of another person on the first go (well, you can, but I wouldn’t recommend it).

This video nails it:

[embed]https://youtu.be/CbtOq0aMRwc[/embed]

As creepy as it sounds, the best way to get to make your first deposit is simply to do your research on the person via social media (it’s easier than ever these days since so much of the world has an active footprint online).

Get to know what’s going on in their world, including:

  • What they are talking about online
  • If their job has changed
  • If they’re publishing any content
  • What kind of story are their online reviews are telling
  • What is going on with their investors
  • What business challenges they’re facing
  • The current state of their industry and marketplace
  • What their competitors are doing

I even like to know personal things about the person I want to connect with.

Once you know what their world looks like and what their pain points are, you’ll have a good idea of how you can do something meaningful to add value to their world (your deposit).

I personally like to do this by:

  • Sharing their content with my network to give them increased visibility
  • Connecting them with a person they would benefit from knowing
  • Sharing a piece of content they would find helpful and useful (whether it’s mine or not)

The key is to do it without expecting anything in return or making a ridiculous shameless plug of yourself in the process (i.e. do it with a genuine interest to help). People like others who are helpful (remember, we care about our interests first and foremost), and since likability is one of the 6 scientifically validated principles of persuasion, this is a critical piece of making the sale.

The coolest part about this, is we have an unbelievable amount of tools available to help us do this today.

The tools I use to build relationships on social media

Straight up, the sheer number of software tools out there are mind-numbing. To the point where you simply don’t have time to try them all.

That said, these are just the ones that I have tried and liked the most. If you have one you use and love, drop a comment below with any you find particularly useful (sharing is caring!).

Apps I use daily

LinkedIn Premium — I spend way more time here than I care to admit. I’m following all of my clients, old clients, prospects key influencers, people I admire, leaders I respect etc. My newsfeed helps me keep up on what’s happening with some of my contacts. It’s where content is published and we all know I like to read. My inmails/history of connections for context on when/how we connected. Who has been viewing my profile and when. Who’s liking my “stuff” and commenting. Groups groups groups — a fantastic way to see what my like-minded colleagues, prospects buyers are talking about and a terrific way for me to weigh in to start connecting in a more meaningful way. All of this helps me understand what’s happening so I can have better/stronger conversations.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator — My LinkedIn sales weapon of choice — premium on steroids for searching, building lead lists, more kernels of juicy insights, company updates

Findthatlead — I use this to get leads/contacts and more importantly direct contact information I can’t find on the web

Crystal- when I find someone Crystal tells me how to engage through really smart tech to suggest the very best way to connect

Nudge — The more I use it the smarter it gets to help me stay on top of what my prospects and clients are talking about online and updates for their companies — super helpful as I browse online or create emails.

Google — I kick it old school by setting up alerts for my top targets, the best way to be automatically alerted on major news

Cliently — I was BLOWN away by their technology to personalize at scale think automated lead lists. Plus, it’s a highly personalized/customized cadence that includes email, Twitter, postcards, and video.

Feedly — I read A LOT to make sure I know what’s going on in my backyard. Feedly is a lifesaver that helps me condense all of my content streams into one place.

Browser extensions I couldn’t live without

If you’re not using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox for your web browser, you’re missing out on a huge number of tools available in the form of browser extensions (plug-ins). I personally use Chrome because I also power my entire business via Google — including Docs, Mail, Calendar, etc.

Boomerang — This little extension makes my email life a heck of a lot easier. It helps me stay on top of email follow up and has an intuitive writing-check function to help my emails be more effective (I like to compare what Boomerang suggests against Crystal)

360Social.me — this extension gives me an easy snapshot of a person’s online “footprint” to help me understand where they are online.

CloudHQ — As a cloud-based backup for all of my apps and data

Mailtrack — Email tracking for Gmail. The daily report is super helpful to help me understand who’s responding to what and what I need to follow up on

The tool that still might be the most useful…

Call me old school, but the Almighty Telephone might still be the greatest productivity tool ever. So much is often lost in translation online, in comments, via text or email. Picking up the good old fashioned phone works wonders and engages in a way that most aren’t these days (remember, we’re talking about relationships here — you can’t truly have them if you’re not talking to the other person).

In summary

If there’s anything you take away from this article, it’s that while the tools we have today to connect are amazing, remember that selling is a human endeavor. No technology or automation can remove this aspect of the process (at least not yet…though I don’t think it ever will).

And when it comes to the way to do the “human part of the process”, there’s no better way to sum it all up than to simply say, remember The Golden Rule. If you put yourself in your prospect’s shoes, you’re 90% of the way there already.

Climate Change Could Cut U.S. GDP By 10 Percent. Here’s What Entrepreneurs Should be Looking Out For.
November 30

 

By A Satara

Here’s how the major effects of climate change will affect the U.S. economy — and your small business or company

Over the weekend, while many Americans were celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends, the U.S. government released a federally mandated report that explained the dire foreseeable effects that climate change will have on the economy, quality of life, and health in the U.S.

The study exposed the severe impact climate change will have over the next century if nothing is done. One of the biggest losses will be major industries around the U.S. that have long been the backbone of the U.S. economy.

While this report may be daunting, it provides real insight into how business owners and leaders can navigate these destructive outcomes. It also gives industries most impacted by climate change a chance to salvage their businesses before the damage is done. Here are the main aspects that small business owners and entrepreneurs should know about the National Climate Change Assessment report.

1. The Agriculture Industry Will Be Heavily Affected by Climate Change

In the next 12 years, the rising heat could cause the production of dairy to decrease between 0.60 percent and 1.35 percent. This statistic means the industry could lose billions of dollars. In 2010 alone, global warming cost this industry $1.2 billion.

The climate change we are seeing will continue to cause extremely hot weather. For farmers in the agriculture industry, this means increased heat, drought, and even flooding. One example of this is how these conditions could leave areas in the Midwest with the means to grow 75 percent less of the amount of corn these areas currently generate.

The ocean farming industry will be massively affected by climate change as well. This study predicts that in the next century selfish production will have seen a $230 million cut to its industry, and shows that our oceans current carbon dioxide levels are already killing coral and shellfish around the world.

For entrepreneurs, these statistics may show a giant pain point in the agricultural market which needs to be solved for. This may come in the form of supplying vegan-friendly pho fish or dairy-free options while capitalizing on the current rise of veganism. Or it may come in the form providing weather sustainable seeds. One thing is for sure, innovation is clearly needed to keep these major industry’s afloat — or to replace them all together.

2. Increased Global Temperatures Will Impact a Wide Range of Businesses

This study predicted that climate change will lead temperatures in the US to rise over 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the next few decades. This may seem like a small increase, but it indicates a massive change. The main takeaway here is that extremely high temperatures are predicted to continue to increase making them more common than normal or typical temperatures. The number of days above 90 degrees will increase. As the number of days in America that will be below freezing is shown to lessen. This study finds that cold temperatures will become less frequent and severe, and heatwaves will continue to grow.

Do you have a small business or company dependent on winter weather (or fashion)? Or one that explores or works in the outdoors that might come to a full stop with rising heatwaves? It’s important to consider the function of your business as it relates to the changing variables — including weather. This rise in heat is already something people around the United States are having to deal with. Ensure that your business has a plan to accommodate the changing weather.

3. Flooding and Wildfires Will Only Become More Prominent

The increase of wildfires and flooding will continue to have a large toll on the U.S. economy and businesses. States and cities along the coast are endangered by flooding and rising sea levels. According to CNN, their real estate projects boost US economy and provide $1 trillion of our national wealth. This major industry is being widely exposed to the dangers of global warming.

Wildfires continue to destroy major area’s in California and the Southwest. In these regions alone, fires are projected to double by 2050. According to The Atlantic, in 1990 to 2009 damages caused by wildfires in the greater Los Angeles area were over $3.1 billion. The costs of these wildfires will only continue to worsen, which will lead to increased deaths, health risks, and amajor financial burden.

Small businesses should be aware of the negative impact both these floodings and wildfires could have on the location of their businesses. These disasters can destroy your store, or office — and everything in it. Instead of taking out millions of dollars worth of loans to repair damages, you should take the time to institute preventative safeguarding measures such as retaining walls, safe rooms, and storm shelters. Or consider moving your physical location altogether.

While this study may be daunting, it provides key insights into how we can provide needed change for our climate crisis. It’s an opportunity for leaders and entrepreneurs to do more to support efforts to decrease global warming. This study shows a major need for industries to provide innovative solutions to this massive problem. More importantly, this is vital information to know so you can adjust your business according to the predicted climate and economy changes.

Julian Marley Thinks Cannabis Should Be Free
November 30

By Laura Desmond

In an exclusive interview, the son of reggae legend Bob Marley talks about his brand JuJu Royal, the benefits of the 'Herb,' and what his father would think about the commercilazation of marijuana.

Julian "JuJu" Marley is one of the most recognizable names in the cannabis industry. His product line, JuJu Royal, includes vape pens, prerolls, and award-winning CBD-infused olive oil. But unlike some celebrities who are in the business for the money, Marley is a true believer in the benefits of what he lovingly calls "The Herb."

Like his iconic father, Julian is also a Rastafarian, a gifted reggae musician, and he did not shoot the deputy. His new album As I Am will drop in January -- it's his latest record in 10 years.

In an exclusive interview, Julian spoke with us on the phone from his home in Miami about JuJu, the cost of Herb, and why he's in the canna-business.

What do you think your father would make of the legalization and commercialization of marijuana today?

For me personally, the Herb should have always been legal. The same way I go to the store and buy some herbs like thyme or parsley. And the Herb should be free, but because of the greed of society and Babylon, you know they always wanted to make a buck off of it. That's the only thing that would be different about what he would be saying. They would want it to be legal, but now that it's legal the Herb has no seed anymore. You can't even plant in the yard anymore. Back in the day, you used to get good herb in Jamaica and plant it back in the garden.

We all wanted it to be free but because of how it is, we have to be part of it also. Since they made [cannabis] a business, we have to be a part of the business also. If it wasn't a business then we wouldn't make it a business. Rastaman has to be there also as part of the contribution.

Why did you get into the cannabis business?

JuJu is coming from me being an advocate and a love of the herb itself. Rastaman has been not just promoting, but showing the benefits of the herb. We want to be a part of this whole movement, especially in America where it's always been.

What does the Rastafari religion say about cannabis?

First of all, Rastaman is a spiritual person and we are spiritual people and obviously students of the Bible. Even in the Bible, it talks about the different herbs of the field. It says that Solomon was the wisest man on Earth, and it [weed] was found right around his tomb. Things like this show you the connection of herb and spirituality. We use herb and we make music. It's always considered something positive, not like alcohol. Like Peter Tosh sung in the song called "Legalize It" in 1976, it's good for glaucoma, it's good cancer. So the Rastaman has always known it's been good.

Alcohol makes you dizzy and drop down and herb keeps you balanced, meditated and focused.

How is JuJu Royal different than other cannabis brands?

JuJu is coming from me. It is what I represent. Juju is my nickname, so when you experience JuJu Royal you know it's coming from my point of view, which is organic, strong (and for some, it doesn't need to be so strong) and far from pesticides. It's hard to find really good growers who can promise the Herb is pure

Your brother Damian also has a cannabis company. Are you guys competitive?

We are brothers. Each of us has good people working with us. We're not competitive, we just make additions to each other's business. For example, when we make music we work from the same studio. I am there in his sessions, he's there in my sessions. But we're releasing different albums. People can say what they want to say, but we know what we're doing.

Did you ask him for advice when starting the business?

No, my business was started first. Everyone has his own connection. We meet good people in Colorado and California that come up with great ideas. Each of us has skills. We each have our own knowledge of the Herb and how to go about it in the right way.

How much of the day-to-day decision are you involved in with JuJu?

As much as I can be. Obviously, I can't do everything because music is a big focus. But, yes, I do make the decisions that mean something when it comes to the products and the things that represent JuJu. It's a partnership. We get ideas thrown at us and I ask, How is it gonna be? What are we using? And from there, they get a stamp of approval.

Why did you make the decision to create CBD-infused olive oil?

Because olive oil is something that we use in cooking daily, so why not have the benefits of all-inclusive Herb.

When somebody smokes JuJu Royal, are they smoking what you do every day?

I'm an herbivore. I smoke everything, but this is what I have to offer. At the end of the day, the bottom line is about love. The Herb is togetherness and bringing that kind of vibe, so it can't be that I only smoke one kind of thing.

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